When is it okay, even healthy, to leave a church? I'm struggling at my church, but I've attended it for a long time and feel guilty about possibly looking for another congregation.
I applaud you for even pondering this question. All too often God's people switch loyalties from one church to another with the same amount of deliberation they give to what kind of fast food they'll eat for lunch! Yet choosing the gathering where we will worship God corporately, engage with other Christians, and invest our gifts is a serious matter that warrants prayerful consideration.
What Does God Say About This?
Although the Bible doesn't have a definitive "now's the right time to run for the door" list about leaving a church, it does paint a clear picture of what a community of faith should look like:
"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." (Ephesians 4:11-15, NLT)1